Medical terms to know for patients with Heart Disease

OK so you have recently been released from the hospital and there are a lot of new words you have heard thrown around. Lets talk about what these mean.

Myocardial infarction means heart attack. A heart attack occurs when blood flow to a part of your heart is blocked for a long enough time that part of the heart muscle is damaged or dies.

A STEMI heart attack is a serious form of heart attack. STEMI is the abbreviation for an “ST-elevation myocardial infarction.” A STEMI heart attack is identified by a test called an electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) that records the electrical activity of your heart. If this test shows something called “ST-elevation,” you are having a STEMI heart attack. This type of heart attack is typically caused by complete obstruction of a coronary artery – an artery that delivers blood to the heart. A STEMI needs to be recognized quickly and is best treated by emergency angioplasty and stenting.


Non-STEMI  is a medical term for “non-ST-elevation myocardial infarction.”  While they may not be as serious as the STEMI heart attack, they are still heart attacks and result in heart muscle death. A non-STEMI heart attack does not show an elevated ST segment on an electrocardiogram.  A NSTEMI should also be recognized quickly and is best treated by medications and early angioplasty and stenting. The NSTEMI is usually diagnosed through blood work which is repeated several times. A patient who had suffered from a myocardial infarction would have an area of damaged heart muscle and so would have elevated cardiac troponin levels in the blood.

Ejection fraction is a measurement of the percentage of blood leaving your heart each time it contracts. When the heart beats, the heart contracts and relaxes. When your heart contracts, it t of the pumping chamber (ventricles). When your heart relaxes, the chambers or ventricles refill with blood. No matter how forceful the contraction, it doesn’t empty all of the blood out of a ventricle. The term “ejection fraction” refers to the percentage of blood that’s pumped out of a filled ventricle with each heartbeat.

A normal LV ejection fraction is 55 to 70 percent. The ejection fraction may decrease if:

  • A heart attack has damaged the heart muscle such that it cannot forcefully contract
  • The valves of the heart are not working properly
  • Blood pressure has been uncontrolled  for a long period of time
  •  weakness of the heart muscle, such as dilated cardiomyopathy

3 thoughts on “Medical terms to know for patients with Heart Disease

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